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American senators to start hearings on Syria September 3

September 02, 2013, 20:12 UTC+3
Two day hearings on authorizing the use of force in Syria scheduled on Tuesday, Wednesday
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Photo ITAR-TASS/ Alexandra Mudratz

Photo ITAR-TASS/ Alexandra Mudratz

WASHINGTON, September 2 (Itar-Tass) - American senators will hold hearings on September 3-4 to discuss legislation authorizing the use of force in Syria, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations said on its official website on Monday, September 2.

It did not specify who exactly would speak at the hearings but Reuters said Secretary of State John Kerry and Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel would address the senators.

“Congress’s role in U.S. military force has too often been abdicated to presidential authority, so I look forward to a vigorous debate on this important authorization,” Senator Bob Corker, ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee said in a statement. “The American people deserve to hear more from the administration about why military action in Syria is necessary, what it will achieve and how it will be sufficiently limited to keep the U.S. from being drawn further into the Syrian conflict. Now that the president has decided to use force and seek authorisation, he must immediately use every resource appropriate in making his case to the public before this potentially defining vote in Congress.”

Kerry said “President Obama has spent many days now consulting with Congress and talking with leaders around the world about the situation in Syria” and “he asked us to consult about what we know regarding the horrific chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs last week.” “Our intelligence community has carefully reviewed and re-reviewed information regarding this attack…the United States Government now knows that at least 1,429 Syrians were killed in this attack, including at least 426 children,” Kerry said, describing it as “the indiscriminate, inconceivable horror of chemical weapons.”

Kerry said the U.S. government would continue talking to the Congress and its allies. “President Obama will ensure that the United States of America makes our own decisions on our own timelines based on our values and our interests,” the secretary of state said.

The White House said in a statement that it was “the Syrian government” that had carried out a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs on August 21, 2013. “We further assess that the regime used a nerve agent in the attack. These all-source assessments are based on human, signals, and geospatial intelligence as well as a significant body of open source reporting. Our classified assessments have been shared with the U.S. Congress and key international partners. To protect sources and methods, we cannot publicly release all available intelligence - but what follows is an unclassified summary of the U.S. Intelligence Community’s analysis of what took place,” the statement said.

It said that “there is a substantial body of information that implicates the Syrian government’s responsibility in the chemical weapons attack that took place on August 21. As indicated, there is additional intelligence that remains classified because of sources and methods concerns that is being provided to Congress and international partners.”

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